Lawn & Garden

How to Get Rid of Ground Bees in Your Yard in 5 Steps

When a homeowner needs to know how to get rid of ground bees, the following steps will help put the buzzing to rest once and for all.
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A ground bee emerges from the dirt.
Photo: istockphoto.com

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Project Overview

  • To get rid of ground bees, homeowners will first want to cover any nesting holes with large rocks or bricks.
  • Ground bees prefer dry environments, so watering the grass can help drive them out.
  • Filling in bare patches of grass with grass seed can also make it harder for ground bees to build a nest.
  • Homeowners can try DIY deterrents, such as cinnamon or vinegar.
  • In many cases, the best course of action is to hire a bee removal specialist to remove the bees safely and humanely.

As their name suggests, ground bees are insects that nest in the ground, as opposed to more social bees that nest in the open or in tree cavities. Although bees can be beneficial to a yard when it comes to pollination, ground bees are a type of bee that can wreak havoc on lawns by building unsightly nests that look like mini ant piles. If left to their own devices, they can pose harm to grass health.

For those who need to know how to get rid of ground bees, the steps below will walk them through simple DIY methods that use household ingredients. If those don’t work, it might be necessary to try a more thorough measure, such as planting new grass or enlisting the help of one of the best bee removal services, like Ehrlich Pest Control.

Time required: 1 to 2 hours
Difficulty: Beginner
Estimated cost: $10 to $60 for DIY methods; up to $500 for professional removal

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How to Know if You Have Ground Bees

Before beginning the elimination process, it helps to ensure that ground bees are in fact the insects present. Getting rid of hornets or wasps will have different steps than getting rid of ground bees. Homeowners can examine their yards and look for pointed piles of dirt that resemble cones. If a pile has a pencil-size hole at the top, it’s likely a bee nest, specifically of the ground bee variety. It’s also possible to spot ground bees around the yard, since they tend to linger around their nests. They’re typically about ½ inch to ¾ inch long and can vary in color from black and yellow to blue, purple, or green with a metallic tint.

Ground bees tend to travel solo and are unlikely to swarm or sting, which makes them less of a threat to those who might be allergic to bee stings. Although males tend to be the more aggressive ground bees, they’re unlikely to do any major harm to animals or humans.

Ground BeesHoney Bees
  • Usually ½ inch in length; can be up to ¾ inch
  • No queen bees; all female bees are fertile
  • Solitary but semi-social; live in individual holes near each other
  • ½ inch to ⅔ inch in length
  • Alternating black bands with yellow or amber hairs
  • Queen bee is the largest and the only fertile female
  • Communal and social; live together in one hive

Tips for Getting Rid of Ground Bees

  • Eliminate access to current nests.
  • Water the yard frequently.
  • Apply a 1:1 vinegar and water solution or sprinkle cinnamon on existing nests.
  • Call a professional bee removal service.

Safety Considerations

  • Wear proper protective gear such as gloves and goggles.
  • Stay away from ground bees and their nests if you’re allergic to bee stings.
  • Consider calling a bee removal expert to safely get rid of ground bees.

STEP 1: Cover any nesting holes

One way to get rid of bees is to block access to their nesting holes. If a homeowner has any spare bricks or large rocks on hand, they can place them over the holes to keep the bees from going back inside their nests and laying more eggs. This method also keeps current miner bees that are inside the nest from reaching the surface. Once the insects realize they can’t go in or out, they’ll likely search for other areas to create nests.

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STEP 2: Water the lawn.

Bees that live in the ground prefer dry conditions, so the more the lawn is watered, the less likely they are to build nests. Not only can a watered lawn prevent ground bees from inhabiting a yard, but it can also encourage current ground bees to move elsewhere. Homeowners can use a water hose for this step, or if there is already a sprinkler system in place, it may be best to set up a regular watering schedule.

A close up of a person laying down sod.
Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 3: Plant more grass.

The more sparse the yard, the better conditions are for ground bees to build a nest. Planting more grass in bare patches of the lawn can help get rid of bees and prevent them from returning. Applying grass seed over current nesting holes can also help eliminate the insects and ensure they don’t multiply over time. Whether a homeowner plants Bermuda grass, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, or fine fescue, any new growth will likely keep bees nests in the ground at bay.

STEP 4: Try DIY methods.

Although bees are known for their attraction to nectar and other sweets, they’re not so fond of the common household spice cinnamon. Sprinkling ground cinnamon on nesting holes or in areas the ground bees inhabit makes them more likely to avoid those spots or move away from them completely.

White vinegar is another common household ingredient that is known to ward off pesky insects like ground bees. In fact, it can be deadly to bees, which is why they tend to avoid it at all costs. A spray bottle can be used to apply a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water to nests or directly on the bees. This will likely eliminate the bees completely, so it’s best to be aware that this is a less humane approach and may affect pollination in the yard.

A ground bee is pictured next to its burrow.
Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 5: Hire a bee removal specialist.

If DIY methods to get rid of underground bees aren’t effective, it may be time to call in the help of a professional. A bee removal specialist can help determine which removal method is best and ensures the job is done safely. Bee removal specialists know how to relocate bees without harming them and can prevent them from returning to a yard. Additionally, some local beekeepers even offer bee removal for free!

The ground bee removal methods above are not only safe for the household, but they’re also beneficial to the health of the lawn. However, if the ground bee population is out of control or there are more bees in the ground than can be handled, it may be time to call in a professional bee removal service. Bee specialists can handle removal and keep bees from buzzing back with a vengeance.

FAQs

From which solutions to use to deter ground bees to how dangerous ground bees are, below are answers to the most burning questions pertaining to ground bees.

Q. What is the best way to determine if you have ground bees?

The best way to determine if you have ground bees is to look for evidence of their nests in the lawn. If you spot small piles of dirt with a single hole at the top, that’s a good indication that ground bees are present. Their nests are more likely to be seen around early spring, when bee activity is at its highest.

Q. Why do I have ground bees in the first place?

The most likely reason you’ve encountered ground bees is because your home’s soil provides favorable conditions for a nest. Sandy, dry soil with little or no vegetation is optimal for ground bees, so the best way to deter or get rid of them is to change the condition of your soil.

Q. Are ground bees dangerous?

No, ground bees are not dangerous. Many ground bees lack stingers, and even the most aggressive male ground bees tend to do no more than move from surface to surface.

Q. What makes ground bees go away?

The best way to make ground bees go away is to make your lawn or ground surface an uninhabitable place to nest. You can start by blocking current nesting holes, then watering your lawn to ensure it’s saturated enough to prevent ground bees from setting up shop underground.

Q. Do ground bees go away when the winter sets in?

Typically, yes. Adult ground bees tend to die off in late fall, leaving only the larvae or pupae to survive through the winter months. If the larvae or pupae make it to winter, they usually stay in their nesting area and remain in a state of paused development.